Thursday, July 06, 2006

Benkiser to Bring Battle to Big Easy?

Judge Sparks ruled as expected today: Either DeLay runs, or the GOP gets no candidate. So there's a few possibilities for the next couple of weeks:

1. The lawsuit ends, and DeLay starts his campaign sometime this next week. Astronomically unlikely.

2. The GOP appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, and lucks out with enough activist GOP judges to overturn Spark's opinion. This process will take at least a week and a half. Presumably, the precinct chair election process will cease during this time, but I wouldn't be shocked if Brazoria and Galveston counties thumb their noses at Sparks. But if they halt the process as instructed, add another week to have those meetings.

3. The GOP appeals and loses. The lawsuit would die. It is highly unlikely the Supreme Court will step in and grant certiorari to fix DeLay's mess. In addition, it would eat up more precious time. DeLay would begin a campaign around 2-3 weeks from today.

Here is a breakdown of the judges currently serving on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, including their district duty station and the president who appointed them:

The appeal would be heard by a three judge panel. We have 2 Carter appointees, 7 from Reagan, 4 from Bush Sr., 3 from Clinton, and 3 from Bush II -- so 14 of 19 are GOP picks. The list includes some dedicated partisans, like the infamous Priscilla Owen.

However, keep in mind that as a high court of appellate jurisdiction, they will not be re-examining the factual record or hearing witnesses. Judge Sparks is to be given deference as the fact-finder, and the court should only examine issues of law. In order to overturn Spark's decision, they must cite "an abuse of discretion." However, if the GOP gets the right three judges, you can forget all that. They will overturn Sparks with no hesitation.

As to the exact mechanics of which judges are assigned to the case, let me get back to you. None of the lawyers I talked to do much federal appellate work, and I only got a C+ in Federal Civil Procedure. (Before you say anything, why don't you try explaining theories of supplemental jurisdiction with a dying pen in an 85 degree room!) My thinking is that judges are assigned to a rotating panel for a short period of time, and thus, the make-up of the panel who will hear the appeal has already been selected.

Now keep in mind that after all this drama is played out, we may still have more lawsuits. If Sparks is reversed and a replacement is named, any of the other hopefuls can potentially file suit. I know it sounds positively suicidal, but trust me, they ARE talking about it. Potential targets of the suit include the unbalanced proportionality of the four counties, or even Gillen's surprise announcement of the straw poll. I've even heard that holding a vote at all, even after the meeting, puts the process in legal peril.

In other news, Nick has some cool new commercials. One of them even features a couple of our members. I think they form a nice contrast to the recent Wallace radio attack ads.


Anonymous My say so said...

Not Pricilla Owens! She'll render a decision that DeLay can be God, or at least God, Jr.

Owens has already proven herself to be an activist judge. She'll probably use this appeal to outlaw gay marriage or all abortions.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it can't make it into the appellate record, since it would fall into the realm of fact finding, the Houston Chronicle provides a nice little twist. Given the fact that the GOPs entire defense is rooted in the claim that Delay has moved to Virginia, it was funny to me that when the Chronicle sent a reporter to Sugarland to interview him yesterday he answered th door to what is supposedly not his place of residence anymore and told the reporter, "not at my house."


3:36 AM  
Blogger muse said...

Ooh, I love the idea of more lawsuits! Please, Dear God, let this fun never end!

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:13 AM  

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